Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a complex Martial Art that incorporates a series of dynamic movements, transitional elements, detailed control positions, and a wide range of deadly submission finishes. The Brazilian art has been around for over a century, as the evolution has seen this formidable art turn from a self defense combat system, into a more worldwide recognised sports orientated game style. This fast paced and high intensity Martial Art is not for the faint hearted, as it involves a practitioner to use intelligence, strategy, speed, strength, and technique to defeat an opponent.
What This Article Covers:
- The Importance of Conditioning for BJJ
- Traditional BJJ Workouts
- Cardio Workouts for BJJ
- Strength Workouts for BJJ
- Mobility Exercises for BJJ
- A Total Workout that Can Benefit BJJ Athletes
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are many ways to improve on attributes in an athlete's Martial skill set. The obvious way is for athletes to spend as much time on the training mat as possible, as the more hours they put into technique and rolling, will inevitably build their skill set. BJJ practitioners can also indulge in a range of bjj conditioning workouts like weight training, extensive cardio workouts, stretching exercises, and mobility workouts. To become an all round athlete, BJJ practitioners need to balance their time between many of these aspects, so they have very few weaknesses. Being strong in every area will give a BJJ athlete the best chance at achieving success on a national, or international level.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONDITIONING FOR BJJ
Conditioning is an important aspect of training in BJJ, as the combat sport has a highly demanding toll on the athlete's body. These days training in a jiu jitsu dojo is not enough, as BJJ practitioners are adding all kinds of different workouts into their training schedules. To be a complete grappler, athletes need to work extensively on all aspects of their BJJ game, this includes strength and conditioning, cardio, mobility, flexibility, and BJJ skills. Practitioners that compete on the international stage are exceptional athletes, as they are experts at combining different forms of conditioning workouts. Utilising conditioning systems will help athletes enhance their capabilities of overall Jiu Jitsu skill, as all of the components of BJJ needs fine tuning.
TRADITIONAL BJJ WORKOUTS
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu began as a self defense combat system, as the Gracie clan's formidable grappling skill would revolutionise Martial Arts. Many of the old school grapplers believed in movement based warmups, as a way to prepare the body for training at such a high intensity. Before an athlete can properly warm up every muscle group, they need to prepare their muscles with stretching exercises. Stretching helps athlete's with flexibility for bjj, as the correct way is to dynamic stretch before static stretching. It can be dangerous to static stretch without getting the blood flowing first, this is why athletes need to execute dynamic stretches.
Once the athlete has begun the initial blood flow, and has limbered up, they can begin a more comprehensive workout program. Many of these traditional styles of warm ups include basic elements like, jogging, side stepping, sit ups, push ups, and different rotational leg movements. After the initial warm up period, traditional workouts will go into specific movements, or drills that directly represent different aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Most academies use line drills, which is when the class will line up and do specific movements across the whole span of the mat. These types of workouts include hip shrimping, crocodile walks, forward rolls, backwards rolls, grampy rolls, push up walks, bear crawls, and sit throughs. These types of warm ups are great for athletes, especially beginners, as they will help students build functional strength and fitness, whilst still utilising elements of conditioning, and flexibility.
CARDIO WORKOUTS FOR BJJ
BJJ athletes need to engage in a good jiu jitsu cardio workout, as it's no good being skilful and strong, but having a small gas tank. Building up a large aerobic capacity is crucial to an athlete when they are training for a BJJ competition. There are many different forms of cardio workouts that can benefit a BJJ athlete immensely. Finding the right cardio workout for each individual is the key component, as this is how an athlete can stay dedicated and still enjoy their workouts. Skipping is one of the most traditional forms of cardio exercises that has been used in all forms of Martial Arts. Athletes that put extensive time into skipping not only will see great results in their cardio, but at the same time will actively improve their footwork skill.
Running is another traditional form of cardio, as most amateur and professional sports utilise this craft. Taking long distance runs can be good for endurance training, but not so good for explosive training. Sometimes long runs on hard surfaces can impact the knee joints, and cause some significant discomfort in an athlete's lower half. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about explosive speed and explosive power, so cardio needs to be tailored to help these aspects of BJJ. One of the best forms of running is interval sprinting, where the athlete will sprint for a designated amount of time, and then rest for short periods before repeating the process several times. This kind of training helps the athlete to develop a faster recovery rate, while still having the ability to use explosive speed.
Cycling is another good form of cardio especially using the assault bike, which is a stationary bike designed to push an athlete harder, so they can achieve the results they are looking for. The assault bike is designed to trap air in through the fan with each rotation of the pedal, as this will increase in increments as the athlete pushes hard on the pedals. This exercise is also combined with handles that move, as the athlete will push forward and backwards simulating a full body cardio workout. Another good form of cardio is swimming as there is no resistance on any of the muscle groups or joints. Athletes that incorporate swimming practises into their training regimes, will see comprehensive results in their functional fitness.
STRENGTH WORKOUTS FOR BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more than just having great technique and being fast, there are also elements of strength involved. It is quite common to see two practitioners at the same skill level combat each other, as one athlete will have a significant strength advantage over their opponent. Some practitioners will also find themselves being out muscled by heavier and stronger opponents inside their gym, or on the competition mats. It is important for athletes to add strength workouts to their training schedule, this will help bolster their capabilities inside of a fight, as it will also help them with injury prevention, as their bodies will become more durable.
Students will always find it hard balancing bjj and weight training, as lifting heavyweights can cause a considerable stress on the body. Athletes should be structuring a weightlifting program that not only suits their body type, but is functional for BJJ. Quite often athletes will just lift too heavy, and become too erratic with the different exercises that they use. Understanding how to correctly strengthen all the muscle groups is extremely valuable knowledge, and can help an athlete considerably. Using cable machines is a great way to build strength, as not only will it build endurance and power it can also be used for bjj core exercises. Deadlifting is one of the premier strength exercises to help a BJJ athlete bulletproof themself for grappling. There is a wide range of different strength exercises including using resistance bands, powerlifting, isometric training, plyometric training, and BJJ kettlebell workouts. All of these different styles of strength workouts can benefit BJJ athletes, as it is up to each individual athlete to find out which exercise suits them best.
MOBILITY EXERCISES FOR BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be an extremely intense and rigorous Martial Art, as many of the movements incorporated can put stress on different parts of the body. These days there is a significant need for athletes to increase their mobility within their training structures. Mobility exercises will improve an athlete's range of motion in the joints, and in the muscles. This kind of training will also help increase an athletes posture, and allow them to remain safer while having their limbs in dangerous positions. Mobility can also improve flexibility, balance, and strength, as well as alleviate any sore spots that athletes may occur while training in the Brazilian art. There are a range of different styles of mobility exercise, as each of them have different functions in order to help different aspects of an athlete's body.
The downward dog is traditionally a yoga mobility exercise, as the athlete will start on their hands and knees. From this position they will walk their hands back towards their knees, as they lift up onto their feet, forming an upside down v position. Another good mobility exercise is called the spider man lunge, where an athlete will start in a push up position. The athlete will then bend their knees, as they walk their foot out past their hand keeping their back legs straight, as they push their hips down towards the mat. Cat cows are an extremely popular mobility exercise that involves a practitioner to start on their hands and knees. The practitioner will switch between two positions, the first is the cat, as they tilt their abdomen towards the mat pushing out their glutes for a nice deep stretch. The second is when the athlete switches to the cow by tilting their glutes into mat, as they arch their back high up into the air.
One of the most important mobility aspects for BJJ athletes, and which can often be forgotten, is neck Mobility. In BJJ the neck will come under intense pressure as opponents will often look to choke an athlete with various attempts. Sometimes an athlete needs to have a significantly conditioned neck to survive in a choke, or in order to execute an escape plan. Neck mobility exercises are important to do before all BJJ training, and they are usually included in a traditional BJJ warm up. Neck mobility can be as simple as lifting your neck up and down, side to side, or rotating your neck around in a circle. This sort of mobility exercise should be done for at least two minutes before every single BJJ training, so athletes can preserve the health and safety of their neck.
A TOTAL WORKOUT THAT CAN BENEFIT BJJ ATHLETES
It can be quite common to see athletes unsure of how to schedule all of these aspects of training into one structured plan. Common components can be left out, which will lead to practitioners slowly becoming deficient in certain areas of their BJJ. If an athlete trains correctly and structures their training to meet all the requirements of BJJ function, then this will help them become successful in the art. A non-negotiable in BJJ training is that an athlete must practise techniques, and roll inside their academy multiple times throughout the week. The good aspect about BJJ training is even if they are sore after a weight session, or tired from a cardio session, they can still come into the gym and roll lightly, or just practise techniques.
BJJ athletes should be doing at least two strength workouts per week, which could include lifting heavy weights on one night for power, and lifting lighter weights with more reps on another night for endurance in their muscles. Athletes should also aim for at least two cardio sessions per week, or one cardio, and one conditioning session. This could be sprinting on one night, and resistance band training, or core workouts on the other. Serious athletes also train at least two mobility sessions per week, which will help them with a greater range of motion, making all of their other workouts easier. Stretching is also non-negotiable as this must be done everyday, so that the athlete can be more flexible, as this can give an athlete a significant advantage over the rest of the competition. If an athlete can structure their training to match all of these elements, not only will they improve as an athlete, but they will maintain a strong body that has a greater chance of avoiding any forms of significant injury.
Another extremely important element to help an athlete hit all their goals in training, is life balance. This means to know when they need their rest and take those days off, and it could also mean taking time away from training to enjoy other hobbies and passions they have in their life. This is a really important aspect, as practitioners need to stay motivated, and enjoy the training so they don't burnout. Martial arts can be an extremely fun journey, as long as the athlete is taking all the appropriate steps to maximise their chances at improvement, and minimising their chances of sustaining injuries.
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